Merkel: Time is now for mural restoration


Mobridge Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Haden Merkel told the Mobridge City Council Monday, April 21, that the time is now to restore the murals at Scherr-Howe Event Center.

Merkel said because some of the timelines for grants secured by former North Central South Dakota Economic Development Director Christine Goldsmith will be expiring in June, the work needs to be done this summer.

“We think we are ready to do the restoration,” Merkel told the council.

“The south wall (with the murals depicting Ceremonies of the Sioux) will be restored and the north wall (depicting History Along the Missouri) will be cleaned and an artist, Nickolas Ward, will refresh the paintings.”

In the Chicago Conservatory report on the condition of the murals, concern is expressed for the murals on the north wall. These murals have suffered from water damage from condensation and leaking from the roof, heat, damage from basketballs, and have been extensively repainted. The repainting is heavier and darker than the original and is cut in around the original shapes on the murals.

Structurally, (the murals are painted on a rough cement surface) there are numerous cracks and areas where the walls are deformed. There are also spots where the concrete is crumbling. The far-east mural, “Retreat” is most severely damaged. This is also the panel that holds Howe’s signature and the year of the project.

The south walls are in better shape and there will be less repair needed to the structure of the murals, with the exception of where the basketball hoop brackets were anchored. There is also more damage on the western most panel, “Social Dance” will need the most work because it is within reach of the bleacher crowds. Large cracks near the railing have been repaired, but no restoration work was done on that concrete repair.

She told the council the decision should be made soon in order for Ward, to be secured for the summer. Merkel said she needs to find Ward a place to stay while he is working on the murals, in order to keep the cost of the project down.  Having a home to stay in rather than lodging in a hotel would cut back on the cost for his portion of the restoration project.

Mayor Jamie Dietterle asked that Mobridge Chief Finance Officer Heather Beck and City Administrator Steve Gasser review the contracts in order to ensure the grant funding and pledges are available even though the installation of the bathrooms has been put on back burner.

Merkel assured the council Friends of Scherr-Howe (FOSH), the group formed to raise funding for the restoration of the historical building and the murals and to create the community center there, will continue to raise funds to install bathrooms on the main floor of the building.

Ward II Councilwoman Amy Cerney, who is also a member of FOSH, told the council the Chicago Conservatory project cost is estimated at between $71,780 and $86, 940. With grants and pledges, $80,000 has been secured for the project.

“I foresee some problems with the project,” Cerney told the council. “I believe the council needs to be aware that we may need to support this project. This is our one shot to get it done and get it done right.”

Dietterle told the council the city has committed to getting these valuable murals restored and needs to pledge support throughout the project.

The council approved signing the contract with the stipulation that Beck and Gasser’s review find no problems with securing the grant funding before the actual work begins (it is planned to start in July).


Water main

Ward I Councilman Tom O’Connell explained to the group that Water Department Manager Brad Milliken requested permission to replace the water main that runs along 10th Street from Second Avenue East to Fourth Avenue East. The department would also remove a dead-end on the water main on Third Avenue East.

“We have been talking about this for year,” Milliken said in a Tuesday, April 22 interview. “As long as things are being torn up now (for the construction of the new pool) let’s take the opportunity to do this.”

Milliken said there are other mains in the city with dead ends that are in need of replacement. The water sits in the dead end pipe and becomes stagnant, according to Milliken and it also impacts the water pressure to neighborhoods. The work can be done now to eliminate the need to go back and remove asphalt, curb and gutter that will be installed during the new pool project.

“We took care of this problem in one area last year, but there are still some that need to be fixed,” he said.

Milliken requested the council approving his reallocating $80,000 he had budgeted for painting the pipes at the water intake northwest of Mobridge to use for this project.

Installing the main would help the water pressure on residents on Third Avenue East to 10th Street and the residents on Second Avenue East to 10th Street.

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